Part 1 of 6
The purpose of this study is to explore the behavior and motivation of people in a survival situation put there by a crisis such as natural or Human-made disasters, and now having to temporarily or longer fend for themselves. The study seeks to explore and analyze people in such environments and to understand what is going on within their psychological, emotional, behavioral, and analytical functions that keep them going or has them give up. The research will explore human behavior and motivation in a crisis as it relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, specifically survival and security needs, and the brain and psychological effects that positively or negatively affect a person’s chances of survival not only physically but mentally as well.
Psychology of Survival and Security: A Behavioral Analysis
Lundin states that about 90 percent of a person’s survival is psychology (2003). At times people might find themselves in life and death situations where they have to fend for their survival. Be it a person having to deal with being homeless through economically related issues, natural or human-made catastrophes, or just only lost in nature. What do all these things have in common? The answer is survival and the mindset that it takes to make it out alive both mentally and physically.
As the economy went crashing, businesses closed and some people lost their life-savings. I also was a victim of this global economic plague and lost almost everything. Not long after the financial crash, my partners and I lost both our business as well as our life savings, and soon after, I became homeless.
With the onset of depression and anxiety, I barely managed to hold on for dear life in a foreign land surrounded by a few friends who supported me as best as they could, considering their misfortune. One homeless day to the next, I found myself surrounded by people in similar situations trying to make it day-by-day. Of course, my predicament was not as unfortunate as most in this homeless crisis, given the fact I had education, training, and other skills to later get a few bucks into my pockets and food into my belly.
Coming from a background as an avid outdoorsman and had extensive survivalist training, and thinking I was well prepared to handle the situation. All my training did not prepare me for the psychological impact on self-esteem and anxiety that went along with being out on the streets as a so-called “dreg of society.” Nothing could have prepared me for the shame, depression and the mental fatigue that went along with living like a rat trying to get by on a few meals a day without going mentally insane and killing myself.
Before I can even commit to getting out of this hell, daily needs had to be met, for the short-term as well as the possible long-term. This meant that attaining daily survival needs of eatable foods and drinkable water as well as maintaining a secure availability of these resources was paramount. Not only were the food and shelter needs challenging to attain, but nothing was as hard as the psychological impact it had not only on myself but also on the others in our group. This situation was by definition a full-blown crisis now, and I have to get out of it with my sanity and physical health intact.
The purpose of this exploratory research is to explore what people go through psychologically and emotionally and to analyze how it affects people’s motivation and attitude to survive the crisis. This exploratory study will examine the behaviors and motivations of people in survival situations as well as the challenges they face when needs are hard to meet. The external needs such as food, water, and shelter are evident needs, but what is not apparent is that prolonged survival situations bring on anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts as well as long-term stress-related illnesses in some cases.
The importance of the exploratory research is to analyze the psychology of survival using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a foundation, specifically survival and security, to explore what people are going to go through psychologically and mentally when faced with uncertainties. The exploratory analysis will research how the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system influences a person in a crisis and the effects it has on behavior, motivation, the emotional state that will either help them or hurt them in light of Maslow’s needs in the context of motivation and behavior assessment.
This topic is important because it is vital to know what affects a person’s behavior in a crisis as it relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as people move from survival to security. The research also explores what neurological and hormonal processes that affect the mental state and how the neurological functions impact positively or negatively on behavior and motivation.
Also, an analysis of internal stressors plays a part in a person’s physiological states that cause a person to choose death as a relief and how to recognize and avoid it.
The results of the analysis may be used by trauma counselors, survival instructors and even the individuals themselves to have a sense of self-awareness as to what will happen to them and what paths to take in better aiding a positive outcome in the context of Maslow’s needs as a base. To take control of anxiety and panic, we must understand how we function mentally. Many people know more about the mechanics and technical workings of a car or a computer when they break down, but find that they cannot understand their mental breakdown and how to correct it. In my analysis of the psychology of survival and security from literature as well as my personal experiences, I will analyze what psychological issues motivated people to act in their best interest or frustrated their efforts.
Understanding the brain and its effect on psychology is vital to understanding what influences behavior, motivation, and emotions needed for survival and security.